The sentence against the prince or king of Tyre. (1-19) The fall of Zidon. (20-23) The restoration of Israel. (24-26)
Verses 1-19 Ethbaal, or Ithobal, was the prince or king of Tyre; and being lifted up with excessive pride, he claimed Divine honours. Pride is peculiarly the sin of our fallen nature. Nor can any wisdom, except that which the Lord gives, lead to happiness in this world or in that which is to come. The haughty prince of Tyre thought he was able to protect his people by his own power, and considered himself as equal to the inhabitants of heaven. If it were possible to dwell in the garden of Eden, or even to enter heaven, no solid happiness could be enjoyed without a humble, holy, and spiritual mind. Especially all spiritual pride is of the devil. Those who indulge therein must expect to perish.
20-26. The Zidonians were borderers upon the land of Israel, and they might have learned to glorify the Lord; but, instead of that, they seduced Israel to the worship of their idols. War and pestilence are God's messengers; but he will be glorified in the restoring his people to their former safety and prosperity. God will cure them of their sins, and ease them of their troubles. This promise will at length fully come to pass in the heavenly Canaan: when all the saints shall be gathered together, every thing that offends shall be removed, all griefs and fears for ever banished. Happy, then, is the church of God, and every living member of it, though poor, afflicted, and despised; for the Lord will display his truth, power, and mercy, in the salvation and happiness of his redeemed people.
Ezekiel 28:1-26 . PROPHETICAL DIRGE ON THE KING OF TYRE, AS THE CULMINATION AND EMBODIMENT OF THE SPIRIT OF CARNAL PRIDE AND SELF-SUFFICIENCY OF THE WHOLE STATE. THE FALL OF ZIDON, THE MOTHER CITY. THE RESTORATION OF ISRAEL IN CONTRAST WITH TYRE AND ZIDON.
2. Because, &c.--repeated resumptively in Ezekiel 28:6 . The apodosis begins at Ezekiel 28:7 . "The prince of Tyrus" at the time was Ithobal, or Ithbaal II; the name implying his close connection with Baal, the Phoenician supreme god, whose representative he was.
I am a god, I sit in . . . seat of God . . . the seas--As God sits enthroned in His heavenly citadel exempt from all injury, so I sit secure in my impregnable stronghold amidst the stormiest elements, able to control them at will, and make them subserve my interests. The language, though primarily here applied to the king of Tyre, as similar language is to the king of Babylon ( Isaiah 14:13 Isaiah 14:14 ), yet has an ulterior and fuller accomplishment in Satan and his embodiment in Antichrist ( Daniel 7:25 , Daniel 11:36 Daniel 11:37 , 2 Thessalonians 2:4 , Revelation 13:6 ). This feeling of superhuman elevation in the king of Tyre was fostered by the fact that the island on which Tyre stood was called "the holy island" [SANCONIATHON], being sacred to Hercules, so much so that the colonies looked up to Tyre as the mother city of their religion, as well as of their political existence. The Hebrew for "God" is El, that is, "the Mighty One."
yet, &c.--keen irony.
set thine heart as . . . heart of God--Thou thinkest of thyself as if thou wert God.
3. Ezekiel ironically alludes to Ithbaal's overweening opinion of the wisdom of himself and the Tyrians, as though superior to that of Daniel, whose fame had reached even Tyre as eclipsing the Chaldean sages. "Thou art wiser," namely, in thine own opinion ( Zechariah 9:2 ).
no secret--namely, forgetting riches ( Ezekiel 28:4 ).
that they can hide--that is, that can be hidden.
5. ( Psalms 62:10 ).
6. Because, &c.--resumptive of Ezekiel 28:2 .
strangers . . . terrible of the nations--the Chaldean foreigners noted for their ferocity ( Ezekiel 30:11 , 31:12 ).
against the beauty of thy wisdom--that is, against thy beautiful possessions acquired by thy wisdom on which thou pridest thyself ( Ezekiel 28:3-5 ).
defile thy brightness--obscure the brightness of thy kingdom.
8. the pit--that is, the bottom of the sea; the image being that of one conquered in a sea-fight.
the deaths--plural, as various kinds of deaths are meant ( Jeremiah 16:4 ).
of them . . . slain--literally, "pierced through." Such deaths as those pierced with many wounds die.
9. yet say--that is, still say; referring to Ezekiel 28:2 .
but, &c.--But thy blasphemous boastings shall be falsified, and thou shalt be shown to be but man, and not God, in the hand (at the mercy) of Him.
10. deaths of . . . uncircumcised--that is, such a death as the uncircumcised or godless heathen deserve; and perhaps, also, such as the uncircumcised inflict, a great ignominy in the eyes of a Jew ( 1 Samuel 31:4 ); a fit retribution on him who had scoffed at the circumcised Jews.
12. sealest up the sum--literally, "Thou art the one sealing the sum of perfection." A thing is sealed when completed ( Daniel 9:24 ). "The sum" implies the full measure of beauty, from a Hebrew root, "to measure." The normal man--one formed after accurate rule.
13. in Eden--The king of Tyre is represented in his former high state (contrasted with his subsequent downfall), under images drawn from the primeval man in Eden, the type of humanity in its most Godlike form.
garden of God--the model of ideal loveliness ( Ezekiel 31:8 Ezekiel 31:9 , 36:35 ). In the person of the king of Tyre a new trial was made of humanity with the greatest earthly advantages. But as in the case of Adam, the good gifts of God were only turned into ministers to pride and self.
every precious stone--so in Eden ( Genesis 2:12 ), "gold, bdellium, and the onyx stone." So the king of Tyre was arrayed in jewel-bespangled robes after the fashion of Oriental monarchs. The nine precious stones here mentioned answer to nine of the twelve (representing the twelve tribes) in the high priest's breastplate ( Exodus 39:10-13 , Revelation 21:14 Revelation 21:19-21 ). Of the four rows of three in each, the third is omitted in the Hebrew, but is supplied in the Septuagint. In this, too, there is an ulterior reference to Antichrist, who is blasphemously to arrogate the office of our divine High Priest ( Zechariah 6:13 ).
pipes--literally, "holes" in musical pipes or flutes.
created--that is, in the day of thine accession to the throne. Tambourines and all the marks of joy were ready prepared for thee ("in thee," that is, "with and for thee"). Thou hadst not, like others, to work thy way to the throne through arduous struggles. No sooner created than, like Adam, thou wast surrounded with the gratifications of Eden. FAIRBAIRN, for "pipes," translates, "females" (having reference to Genesis 1:27 ), that is, musician-women. MAURER explains the Hebrew not as to music, but as to the setting and mounting of the gems previously mentioned.
14. anointed cherub--GESENIUS translates from an Aramaic root, "extended cherub." English Version, from a Hebrew root, is better. "The cherub consecrated to the Lord by the anointing oil" [FAIRBAIRN].
covereth--The imagery employed by Ezekiel as a priest is from the Jewish temple, wherein the cherubim overshadowed the mercy seat, as the king of Tyre, a demi-god in his own esteem, extended his protection over the interests of Tyre. The cherub--an ideal compound of the highest kinds of animal existence and the type of redeemed man in his ultimate state of perfection--is made the image of the king of Tyre, as if the beau ideal of humanity. The pretensions of Antichrist are the ulterior reference, of whom the king of Tyre is a type. Compare "As God . . . in the temple of God" ( 2 Thessalonians 2:4 ).
I have set thee--not thou set thyself ( Proverbs 8:16 , Romans 13:1 ).
upon the holy mountain of God--Zion, following up the image.
in . . . midst of . . . stones of fire--In ambitious imagination he stood in the place of God, "under whose feet was, as it were, a pavement of sapphire," while His glory was like "devouring fire" ( Exodus 24:10 Exodus 24:17 ).
15. perfect--prosperous [GROTIUS], and having no defect. So Hiram was a sample of the Tyrian monarch in his early days of wisdom and prosperity ( 1 Kings 5:7 , &c.).
till iniquity . . . in thee--Like the primeval man thou hast fallen by abusing God's gifts, and so hast provoked God's wrath.
16. filled the midst of thee--that is, they have filled the midst of the city; he as the head of the state being involved in the guilt of the state, which he did not check, but fostered.
cast thee as profane--no longer treated as sacred, but driven out of the place of sanctity (see Ezekiel 28:14 ) which thou hast occupied (compare Psalms 89:39 ).
17. brightness--thy splendor.
lay thee before kings--as an example of God's wrath against presumptuous pride.
18. thy sanctuaries--that is, the holy places, attributed to the king of Tyre in Ezekiel 28:14 , as his ideal position. As he "profaned" it, so God will "profane" him ( Ezekiel 28:16 ).
fire . . . devour--As he abused his supposed elevation amidst "the stones of fire" ( Ezekiel 28:16 ), so God will make His "fire" to "devour" him.
21. Zidon--famous for its fishery (from a root, Zud, "to fish"); and afterwards for its wide extended commerce; its artistic elegance was proverbial. Founded by Canaan's first-born ( Genesis 10:15 ). Tyre was an offshoot from it, so that it was involved in the same overthrow by the Chaldeans as Tyre. It is mentioned separately, because its idolatry (Ashtaroth, Tammuz, or Adonis) infected Israel more than that of Tyre did ( Ezekiel 8:14 , Judges 10:6 , 1 Kings 11:33 ). The notorious Jezebel was a daughter of the Zidonian king.
22. shall be sanctified in her--when all nations shall see that I am the Holy Judge in the vengeance that I will inflict on her for sin.
24. no more . . . brier . . . unto . . . Israel--as the idolatrous nations left in Canaan (among which Zidon is expressly specified in the limits of Asher, Judges 1:31 ) had been ( Numbers 33:55 , Joshua 23:13 ). "A brier," first ensnaring the Israelites in sin, and then being made the instrument of punishing them.
pricking--literally, "causing bitterness." The same Hebrew is translated "fretting" ( Leviticus 13:51 Leviticus 13:52 ). The wicked are often called "thorns" ( 2 Samuel 23:6 ).
25, 26. Fulfilled in part at the restoration from Babylon, when Judaism, so far from being merged in heathenism, made inroads by conversions on the idolatry of surrounding nations. The full accomplishment is yet future, when Israel, under Christ, shall be the center of Christendom; of which an earnest was given in the woman from the coasts of Tyre and Sidon who sought the Saviour ( Matthew 15:21 Matthew 15:24 Matthew 15:26-28 ; compare Isaiah 11:12 ).
dwell safely--( Jeremiah 23:6 ).